political virtues

political virtues

The political virtues were listed by Bernard Crick "In Defense of Politics", 1982. They include, but are not limited to:


Take one step, then see the results before taking another


Make friends with people you have argued with


Give up some things that you want in order to get the things that are most important to you


People want to have a number choices that are different from each other


Meet the needs of changing times


Never be boring

not an ideology

Crick sees these virtues as a way of avoiding ideology or "absolute-sounding ethic". More virtues will lead to less conflict.

operational only

Some other virtues have also been suggested: humour, empathy, initiative, and compassion. All of these however seem much harder to detect very reliably and so may smack of ideology in themselves, e.g. Taoist, Buddhist, Terrist, etc.. It is a specific merit of Crick's list that it is wholly operational and reflects only things that can be objectively determined by even a hostile audience.

not media-friendly

While it's very common in politics for people to advise others to "be brief" or "be concise" these are media virtues not political ones: often anti-political insofar as they facilitate centralized decisions by people involved in deep framing but not in actual research on the problems. To be ((media-friendly) is a way to get elected, but it is not a route to virtue.

deliberative not "positive"

Many theorists, including Crick himself, often dismissed the desire for brevity and certainly for happy talk not as attributs of the effective politician but more likely the attributes of a spin doctor. A person who is actually intent on resolving real political and social problems may be brief or concise when problems are fully elaborated and when best practices are known but not until then.

Crick very specifically warns against "an absolute-sounding ethic" which would almost certainly be brief and positive so as to attract adherents. Crick argues usually for deliberative democracy which is neither brief, never concise, nor very positive, as it is involves a very long and drawn out consideration of what problems exist and a great deal of hesitation to "solve" them and a total unwillingness to avoid them.

The virtues are clearly those skills that make a long drawn out dialogue including many emotionally and personally painful statements possible, though not comfortable. None of them is about avoiding problems or trying to state them in terms already understood by the audience, but leading to the wrong conclusions or pre-formed conclusions.


A list of political vices has also been proposed by users of openpolitics.ca itself. It has not received the scrutiny of Crick's views, in part since it was only defined in 2005, 23 years after Crick's.


refer link political virtues